President Softens Language on Wall Street Bonuses He Once Called ‘Obscene’ and ‘Shameful’

Jake Tapper
ABC News

As recently as just a few weeks ago, President Obama called massive Wall Street bonuses “obscene,” language that fit right in with his previous descriptions for them such as “the height of irresponsibility” and “shameful,” an “outrage” and a violation “our fundamental values.

But in an interview published today with Bloomberg Business Week, the president struck a different note.

Asked about the $17 million bonus given to Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the $9 million bonuses going to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO, the president said, “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen. I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

“I do think that the compensation packages that we’ve seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance,” the president said — a rather serene response relative to some of his previous language on the matter.

The seeming shift in tone comes at a time that Wall Street executives have been relaying to the White House that the president needs to be more encouraging of their efforts if he expects them to be part of the solution in terms of job growth. Several business executives have told the administration that attacking businesses so vociferously doesn’t exactly help create a positive business climate.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs denied that President Obama had changed his tone at all, pointing out that the president has said “countless times” that he doesn’t begrudge wealth or success.

Tapper’s article, with some very interesting updates, continues at ABC News.

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